Read the full article by Robby Berman (Medical News Today)
“A first-of-its-kind study looks at the biological processes triggered by PFAS compounds.
Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of compounds that are common in industrial and consumer products.
Now, a new review of 26 PFAS substances is raising concerns about characteristics that the chemicals share with known carcinogens.
‘Our research has shown that PFAS impact biological functions linked to an increased risk of cancer,’ warns toxicologist and primary author of the study, Alexis Temkin, Ph.D.
The study, appearing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, was a collaboration between the Environmental Working Group, in Washington, D.C., and the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public Health.
PFAS: What they are and their uses
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, these compounds ‘keep food from sticking to cookware, make clothes and carpets resistant to stains, and create firefighting foam,’ and PFAS are also used ‘in industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction, electronics, and military.’
According to the institute, the two best-known and most-studied PFAS are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), formerly used in DuPont’s Teflon coatings, and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), once used in 3M’s Scotchgard brand of stain and water repellents.
Research in animals indicates that both of these chemicals can cause damage to the liver and immune system, developmental abnormalities and delays, and deaths of newborns.
The problem with PFAS
The new study assessed the safety of 26 PFAS by comparing the biological processes that they promote against those listed in the key characteristics of carcinogens framework developed by an international working group organized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The researchers behind the present study looked at all available epidemiological, toxicological, and mechanistic data related to these compounds. As Temkin and colleagues write:
“We found strong evidence that multiple PFAS induce oxidative stress, are immunosuppressive, and modulate receptor-mediated effects. We also found suggestive evidence indicating that some PFAS can induce epigenetic alterations and influence cell proliferation.”
The study found that each of the 26 PFAS examined exhibited characteristics of carcinogens.
‘Evidence exists that multiple PFAS exhibit several of the key characteristics of carcinogens, with each of [the] 26 chemicals identified in our review exhibiting at least one characteristic, particularly receptor-mediated effects.‘
The study did not delve into the possible effects of different PFAS levels on cancer risk, nor did it analyze the impact that multiple carcinogenic characteristics within a single PFAS might have.
Likewise, the question of what happens when more than one PFAS is present in the body remains unanswered, for now. The authors note that these issues are worthy of further research.”